Ready for Healthier?

Blog by Rev. Ron Kurzawa, OPA

This is that time of year for us, especially us Catholics, to ask ourselves if we are ready to get healthier.

And as I set those words down, I can almost hear her voice.

It was a long time ago, a very long time ago.

She was one of the members of that season’s RCIA group.  And for those not familiar with those letters – RCIA –  Try Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. It is a process whereby adults, perhaps sensing some movement of God in their lives, enter into a discernment process. Is God calling them? Asking something of them? Leading them somewhere they as yet, perhaps, have not fully been. And dare they respond to such a call. What may it cost? What are its risks? What might happen to their lives from that moment on?

RCIA involves some study, more reflection and much, much more prayer. It can be a difficult and challenging life movement.

Anyhow, so many years ago, I was leading one of the study sessions for the RCIA group and Lent was approaching and so I decided to spend some time presenting some background and history behind the development of the season we now call Lent. As I came into more contemporary times, I talked about some of the communal Lenten practices:  fasting (which meant no food, nothing, nada between meals and two small daily meals (sufficient to maintain strength but both, together, not having as much food as the one, allowed main meal.) Food consumption was reduced greatly during those Forty Days. And then there was abstaining from all meats and meat by-products.

Fridays (Lent and all year long) were days of total abstaining together with a number of additional days throughout the year, which meant on those designated days there would be no meat or those meat by-products. But back in the day, when Monday through Saturday every week in Lent were days of fasting, that also meant at least partial abstaining. Meat only at the main meal and never in between all week  long.

As I described these Lenten dietary regulations, one voice spoke up. The RCIA lady, a professional nurse. And she asked the question. “Why did you quit all of that?” she asked. “It sounds very healthy to me!”

And, of course, she was right.

Too many of us eat too much and we definitely eat too much meat.

And that got me thinking.

And more than thinking. It got me acting.

For a good number of years, every Lent, I tried  to get “healthier.” Monday through Saturday for me became meatless, totally meatless. I allowed myself some bacon at breakfast on the Sundays and also some of that meat and meat by-product stuff through the day, but those Lenten weekdays became meatless.

It was my Lenten “body cleanse.”

In more recent years I will confess to putting that practice aside.

However, as this year’s Lent approached, I began to hear that voice again, yes, even after all of these years. “Why did you quit?” Only this year I am hearing it with a new and richer meaning.

If you haven’t been paying attention, lately studies have been demonstrating how our prodigal consumption of meats is negatively impacting our environment. What it takes to raise, feed and maintain those animals that are slaughtered tor our dinner tables is harming the health of Mother Earth and Sister Air and Brother Water.

There is much now being said and written about Catholics going back to at very least forgoing meat again on all Fridays throughout the year. Something called meatless Mondays is also beginning to get some attention. And the meatless call is going out even beyond Catholic boundaries.

(If you want a quick glimpse of what studies are showing, check this article out: America Magazine: Catholics and Meat.)

And it is, as that very wise RCIA nurse declared, healthier!

Not just for us but for the world in which we live.

Reducing the amount of meat we consume is proving to be healthier for us and for our environment.

So, for Lent again this year, I will be passing on the meat and meat by-products.

I invite you to consider joining me. Maybe you are not yet ready for the Monday through Saturday regime but how about adding one or two additional days to the already set Fridays together with Ash Wednesday? And going a step further, how about considering a more permanent lifestyle change and reducing your consumption of meat even outside of Lent?

It just may make you healthier.

And it will make our beautiful but suffering world healthier.

Oh! And if this may be your concern – go ahead. Enjoy that corned beef on St Patrick’s Day!

Posted in Associate Blog, News

An Open Letter from the Dominican Sisters of Peace

The Dominican Sisters of Peace speak out to protest the terrible injustice of the giant Russia invading its small neighbor, Ukraine, with the intention to gobble her up, destroy her identity, and absorb her citizenry.  This blatant aggression against a sovereign country breaks black-letter international law, not to mention laws of morality.

The Dominican Sisters of Peace across America join with Churches, other nations, and humanitarian groups around the world to say that this unprovoked aggression is unacceptable.  The outrageous greed and brutality of Russia’s leaders undermine a path to peace and reconciliation not just for Ukraine, but for all of Europe.

We stand in solidarity with the Russian people who are so committed to peace that they risk arrest and long-term consequences.  More than 1800 were detained for protesting their country’s aggression against Ukraine in just one day. Their example of moral fortitude inspires us to more noble and courageous response.

History shows that war always leaves both the “winner” and “loser” broken, wounded, and poorer.  Military aggression devastates human life, the national economy, the political infrastructure, and environmental resources, of which Ukraine has many.

If these are not reasons enough for condemnation of Russia’s invasion, let us remember that it is in our own nation’s best interest to prevent the European continent from the threat of a single hostile and dominating power. It is for this reason that the United States has invested in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and other institutions.

We hold in prayer all the people of Ukraine and Russia who long for peace and human dignity.  May the Holy Spirit inspire leaders of all nations, Churches, and people of goodwill to ease human suffering and restore the rights of sovereign nations.

In prayer for God’s peace –

Sr. Gemma Doll, OP
Leadership Team member

Updates from Ukraine:

Letter from Cardinal Bras de Avis, Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life

Update on our Dominican Sisters from Dominican Sisters International Confederation

Dominican Sisters Ministering in and Around Ukraine.

Updates from the Dominican vicar provincial of Ukraine, Jarosław Krawiec OP

A letter from Dominican Friar and Master of the Order Father Gerard Francisco Timoner III, OP, to the Dominican Family.

The Litany of Saints and Blesseds of the Dominican Family

 

Posted in News

When God calls…

Show up for God

Today, we share a blog written by Sr. Tram, our novice. She writes: “Every year, “Tết reminds me of the many blessings I have received from God. It’s also a time to remind me to be more aware of living in the present, the importance to be at peace, and learning again to recognized God all around me. It’s a time to call me back to the table, the church, the community, the family. In addition, Tết reminds me of the welcoming and unlimited invitation to the Lord’s Supper to each of us and especially for me.  If Tết season is gone and as the days go by, I know for sure that I am always welcome at the Lord’s Table and I can always receive many blessings there. The only thing the Lord requests for me is to show up.” Click here to read Sr. Tram’s blog as she recalls how they celebrated Tết, explains the Lunar New Year, and shares how we are called to ‘show up’ for God.

Listen to God

Want to know what religious life looks like? What is involved in becoming a religious sister? How do I know what God is calling me to do with my life? If you have ever prayed with these and other “life” questions, then, come join other women who are discerning God’s call to religious life at this March retreat. To learn more about what to expect at a Come and See retreat click here. To register for this retreat, click here. If you have any questions about this retreat, feel free to call or text Sr. Bea Tiboldi, OP at 614.400-1255 or via email at Bea.Tiboldi@oppeace.org.

 

Ponder God in your heart

Lent is coming soon at the beginning of March. It is a good time to reflect on your vocational call. We invite you to pause some of your daily activities for a few hours to join our online Lenten mini retreat, 2:00-5:00 PM EST, Sunday, March 27. The retreat will include prayer, guided meditation with clay, personal prayer and reflection, and an opportunity to share faith with Sisters and other women discerning their call to religious life. Click here for more information or to register. Or, if you have any questions about this program, please call or text Sr. Maidung Nguyen, OP at 405.248.7027 or via email at Mai-dung.Nguyen@oppeace.org.

 

Posted in News, Vocations Blog

Protect Democracy – Protect the Right to Vote

President Biden will give the State of the Union speech on Tuesday, March 1. We need the President to highlight the threats facing our democracy, and his plans for protecting it – with or without Congress.

It’s critical that we continue to engage with our elected leaders, including the President, to ensure our freedom to vote and our democracy remains a top priority – and that the President does everything in his power to protect it.

Please call or email his office today or tomorrow and ask him to address the threat to democracy by State laws and dark money which threaten to suppress certain voters. Ask President Biden to take action to ensure each citizen has the freedom to vote and that their vote will be counted.

Please note: The White House call-in line is 833-345-2554 and it is only open on February 22, February 23, February 24 and March 1 from 11AM – 3PM ET.

Please see below for a sample script of what you might say:

[Greeting]

As predicted, extremist state legislatures are hard at work continuing to introduce restrictive voting bills and quietly working to gain control over our election process. In addition, dark money is continuing to flood into our system in advance of the 2022 election.

We cannot sit idly by while voters and particularly communities of color are being silenced and their votes suppressed. 

While the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act was blocked in the Senate, President Biden still has a major tool at his disposal to protect and strengthen our democracy: executive action.  

We will continue to fight to safeguard the freedom to vote until the promise of American democracy has been realized for all. We are so grateful to have you in this fight with us.

[Signature]

Posted in Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

Reflection on the 3rd Sunday in OT

Nehemiah 8:2-6, 8-10 – Today is holy to the Lord…for rejoicing in the Lord must be your strength.

1 Corinthians 12:12-30 – You are Christ’s body.

Luke 1:1-4; 4:14-21 – Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.

Reflection by Shirley Bodisch, OP

Today is holy to the Lord, for rejoicing in the Lord must be your strength!

I assume most of us if not all of us have taken part in family reunions.  At the ages we are now, we hold on to those memories of the various times we gathered with our families either around holidays, or special events such as graduations, anniversaries or even funerals.  Over a meal we shared joy, humor and memories or we mourned the loss of someone, we even may have been astonished with some family news being shared for the first time.  These reunions strengthened and supported our belonging to an intimate network of loving relatives and even a few cranky ones.  Our readings for today highlight this human experience of a family reunion.  Because, you see, to paraphrase Paul’s letter to the Corinthians: We are Christ’s family.

In our first reading we heard of the restoration of the Jewish community after several generations of living in exile.  The people were then freed to gather in Jerusalem, to rebuild and to re-establish themselves according to the Covenantal prescriptions.  They were told by Nehemiah, don’t be sad.  You must rejoice, prepare banquets, share with your neighbors and be happy, because the Lord has set you free.  And they did just that.  God had fulfilled the promises made from the beginning for the people.  They were gathering in a reunion as God’s family.

Now in Luke’s description of Jesus’ mission, we heard that Jesus traveled about the region of Galilee proclaiming Good News which would restore the community according to God’s original plan: to be the People of God, to live according to the  spirit of the Covenant.  Jesus’ reputation had spread all throughout the region.  So when he arrived in his home town, the people were excited to hear what he had to say to them.  They were delighted and astonished with his speaking and with the stories of his healings.  Jesus was calling for a family reunion; not just with his immediate relatives, but for the whole people of Israel to come together again.  He announced: today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.

But, how and what did people actually hear?  We, in this retirement community, have great examples of how we hear news.  Sometimes we hear only what we expect to hear, other times we hear what we long to hear and there are times when what we hear is no way near what was announced.  Right?

So in our first reading the people responded with the joy of open hearts to the good news of the restoration of the nation.  But that celebration was short lived as later kings chose to live according to their own desires.  And in our Gospel story, Jesus’ relatives, friends and acquaintances were delighted at first.  They heard what they longed to hear while living under Roman occupation, which was brutal.  So when the deeper meaning of the Good News really sunk in, people realized that they would have to make certain changes in how their society was structured.  And they were not ready to do that just yet.  Are we ready, 2,000 years later, to make those changes?

How do we interpret life-changing invitations in relation to our daily lives?  We’ve already experienced a few these past two years.  Our lives certainly are different now.  And there are soon to be more challenges to our daily lives in the near future.  Jesus wanted to show his people and us a better way to live, a more intimate, realistic and loving relationship as the family of God coming together.

So what was Jesus proclaiming that afternoon in the Nazareth synagogue?  Nothing less than that God was speaking God’s Self fully in Jesus.  And what God desires is that we, his children, act godly with each other.   Where there is poverty, we can alleviate it.  Where there is bondage, we can liberate.  Where there is injustice, discrimination, and self-centeredness, we can bring resolution, forgiveness and compassion.  In other words, because we are members of the family of God, Jesus has invited us to a family reunion where we have been given the ability to act godly.  And when we do, the fulfillment of God’s promises occurs.  The biggest mistake we humans make happens when we refuse to recognize the Divine Spirit in the other person.   That Spirit unites us as a Divine Family.  The people in the Nazareth story made this mistake.  “Isn’t this Joseph’s son,” they said?  “Who does he think he is?”  For us to internalize the Good News, we have to say, “This Jesus, whom we thought we knew, is more than Mary and Joseph’s son; he is God’s Son and our brother.  And we are sisters and brothers all in this amazing family.”   Then let us alleviate hunger in one another, help those stuck in any addiction to be free, guide those blind and deaf toward truth, and above all, let us be joyful, because our loving God is having a reunion banquet for everyone.

Posted in News, Weekly Word